Paris: Enchanted by Amélie’s Montmartre

One of my all-time favourite movies is Amélie, the exquisite 2001 French film that made the actress Audrey Tatou famous.

The original longer French movie title Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain (“The fabulous destiny of Amélie Poulain”) describes the movie in a nutshell: it is the beautiful story of a young woman’s life in Montmartre, Paris – her unique perspective of the world, her happiness in helping others, and falling in love.

AmeliesFavouriteThings_700

I love everything about the movie: the beautiful soundtrack (which is playing in my head as I am writing this – I even have the piano sheet music!), the wonderful cinematography, and the pure magic that we experience through Amélie’s eyes.

Magic through the young Amélie’s eyes

So, when I had to create a poster of myself as the lead character in a movie for a final Photoshop project a few years ago, it was a given! Little did I know that my future self would use my hard work as the profile pic on my blog one day.

My Amélie poster project was so much fun. I have always loved the movie. Read more about my visit to Amélie's Montmartre.

Paris happens to be one of my favourite travel destinations – who could not love such a beautiful city with so much romance, history and culture?

Amélie’s Montmartre is a wonderful place to visit. Even before seeing the movie, I have always loved to explore this charming neighbourhood. Located on a hilltop in the north of Paris (in the 18th arrondissement/district), its beautiful tree-lined cobblestone streets, quaint cafés, music halls, cabarets, squares and pretty parks will mesmerise you. There is even a small vineyard that still produces about 500 litres of wine each year. All of this is crowned by the imposing Sacré-Coeur Basilica on top of the hill from where you get the best views of Paris.

The Clos Montmartre vineyard in Paris. (Credit: Basili)
The Clos Montmartre vineyard in Paris. (Credit: Basili)
A beautiful street scene in Montmartre, Paris. (Credit: Ed Webster)
A beautiful street scene in Montmartre, Paris. (Credit: Ed Webster)

In the 19th century, when Montmartre was still an independent village and the Parisian laws and taxes didn’t apply, everything (including wine) was much cheaper there and it quickly became a haven for bohemian students, writers, artists and composers, including Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, Degas, Renoir, Dali, Monet, Satie and Picasso. This was the centre of wine, women and song, and many famous scenes have been immortalised in famous paintings. Many of these artists are buried at the Montmartre and Saint-Vincent cemeteries.

Montmartre has become a tourist hotspot, but you can still enjoy its charm by taking a slow and picturesque walk up Montmartre Hill, starting at Place Blanche (Metro stop: Blanche), instead of taking the mainstream tourist shortcut to the Sacré-Coeur via Abbesses metro and funicular railway.

Moulin Rouge

Place Blanche is the square where the famous Moulin Rouge cabaret is located – you’ll see it immediately as you come out of the metro.

After taking a quick pic of the Moulin Rouge and its windmill (there are only two windmills left of the original 13 in Montmartre), walk towards Rue Lepic. Moulin Rouge is located near the corner of Rue Lepic and Boulevard de Clichy (the main road that runs between Place Blanche and the Moulin Rouge).

Moulin Rouge, Montmartre, Paris.
Moulin Rouge, Montmartre, Paris.

Amélie’s Café des 2 Moulins

Walk a few minutes up the Rue Lepic and you will find the café where Amélie worked (and many of the movie scenes were filmed) on your left-hand side, at number 15.

The café is called Café des 2 Moulins (the “Two Windmills Café”). It happens to be one of the best cafés in the area, serving great food and drinks in a wonderful atmosphere – not much has changed since the movie was filmed there. The owners put up one or two Amélie posters and memorabilia to please tourists such as myself, but it is also frequented by locals and always busy.

A waiter told me that the whole restaurant was closed for two weeks during filming and that Audrey Tatou was as eccentric as her character Amélie! (Maybe she was just really living her role 24 hours a day? Or the waiter made up a story to please tourists? Either way, if she is anything like her character Amélie, I would really like her.)

 

Cafe des 2 Moulins. The café in Montmartre, Paris where Amélie worked.
Café des 2 Moulins. The café in Rue Lepic, Montmartre, Paris where Amélie worked.
Café des 2 Moulins. The café in Montmartre, Paris where Amélie worked. (Credit: www.grooveisintheheart.co.za)
The obligatory tourist pic inside Café des 2 Moulins in Montmartre, Paris.
Café des 2 Moulins. The café in Montmartre, Paris where Amélie worked. (Credit: www.grooveisintheheart.co.za)
Inside Café des 2 Moulins.  Of course, we had to sit down and enjoy a drink and a snack. Unfortunately, Amélie was off duty on the day we visited 😉
Café des 2 Moulins. The café in Montmartre, Paris where Amélie worked. (Credit: www.grooveisintheheart.co.za)
The famous bar counter at Café des 2 Moulins. (Credit: Grooveisintheheart.co.za)

Once you enjoyed your Amélie café stop, stroll further up the hill and explore all the side streets and their wonderful hidden treasures along the way.

Au Marché de la Butte

Be on the lookout for the grocery store of the movie’s nasty grocer Collignon. The shop is called Au Marché de la Butte (“Market at the Butte/Hill”) and can be found at 56, Rue de Trois-Frères. (It is near Place Émile-Goudeau, a square where many early 20th century artists used to meet at a building called Le Bateau-Lavoir – “The Boat Wash-House”.)

Au Marché De La Butte - the grocery shop in Montmartre that featured in the movie Amélie. (Credit: Roby)
Au Marché De La Butte – the grocery shop in Montmartre that featured in the movie Amélie. (Credit: Roby)

It is at this grocery shop that Amelié put the nasty Collignon (who was always ridiculing his assistant) in his place by telling him the following:

“At least you’ll never be a vegetable. Even artichokes have hearts.”

Many more wonderful places are to be found if you take the time to wander off into the side streets. One such example is the unusual statue of a man walking through a wall at Place Marcel Aymé (a square north of Place Émile Goudeau). The statue is based on a short story written by the author Marcel Aymé, which is titled Le Passe-Muraille, or “The Walker-Through-Walls”.

If you walk in the side streets, you will come across some wonderful surprises, such as the this statue of a man walking through a wall at Place Marcel Aymé.
A statue of Le Passe-Muraille (“The Walker-Through-Walls”) at Place Marcel Aymé. (Photo by Juanedc)

Gradually make your way towards Place du Tertre and finally the Sacré-Coeur Basilica. Don’t waste too much time or money at Place du Tertre, the famous square where artists used to work and live. Today it is crowded with tourists competing for a seat at a café table or being conned into buying an overpriced painting. If you want to experience the square’s true atmosphere, rather go early in the morning.

The very touristy Place du Tertre, Montmartre, Paris.
The very touristy Place du Tertre, Montmartre, Paris. If you must go, go early in the morning when there are fewer people. (Credit: Son of Groucho)

Sacré-Coeur

The highlight of your walking tour of Montmartre is the imposing Sacré-Coeur (Sacred Heart) Basilica which is literally situated at the highest point of Montmartre Hill.

Though some purists scoff at the church’s design, saying that it’s over-the-top and kitsch (it was built at the height of the romantic era – from 1875 to  1914 – and is a very free, romanticised interpretation of the Roman-Byzantine architectural style), I think it is lovely.

Sacre Coeur in Montmartre, Paris. (Credit: www.grooveisintheheart.co.za)
The Sacré-Coeur Basilica in Montmartre, Paris. (Credit: Grooveisintheheart.co.za)
Sacre Coeur in Montmartre, Paris. (Credit: www.grooveisintheheart.co.za)
Sacré-Coeur in Montmartre, Paris. (Credit: Grooveisintheheart.co.za)
Magnificent views of Paris from the Sacre Coeur Dome in Montmartre.
Magnificent views of Paris from the Sacré-Coeur Dome in Montmartre. (Credit: Pline)

Its location on the hill is very impressive. There is a very special atmosphere and the views are incredible – these views get even better if you climb the stairs to the dome of the basilica.

The Sacré-Coeur is where Amélie would often contemplate the world while taking in the views over Paris. This is also the famous scene in the movie where her love interest Nino rushes up the steps as she watches from above.

Amélie and Nino in a scene from the movie. Sacré-Coeuer can be seen in the background.
Amélie and Nino in a scene from the movie. The Sacré-Coeur can be seen in the background.

Montmartre is full of magic. Make sure you spend at least a full day in this wonderful neighbourhood. And, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, watch it before you travel to Paris. You’ll thank me later.

Have you visited Montmartre in Paris yet? Have you seen the movie Amélie?

Lou Messugo

22 thoughts on “Paris: Enchanted by Amélie’s Montmartre

  • July 11, 2016 at 9:00 am
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    What a lovely post 🙂 I have heard so much about this French film but have yet to watch it. Montmatre is also my favourite place in Paris and I have been telling myself that if I was to go back to Paris, I should stay in Montmatre area.

    P.S. Thanks for liking my posts and following my blog, appreciate it 🙂

    Reply
    • July 12, 2016 at 9:56 pm
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      You’re welcome, and thanks for the visit 🙂 If you love Montmartre, you will definitely love the movie Amélie!

      Reply
  • May 20, 2016 at 5:14 pm
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    I loved this little tour. I lived in Paris for 10 years but rarely went to Montmartre as I always felt it was too touristy but following Amelie is a lovely way to see it. The man coming out of the wall is great, I’ve never seen/heard of it before. Thanks for linking up with #AllAboutFrance
    Phoebe @Lou Messugo recently posted…A visit to the Picasso Museum, AntibesMy Profile

    Reply
    • May 20, 2016 at 7:23 pm
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      Thanks for your lovely feedback and stopping by, Phoebe! Wow…it must have been amazing to live in such a beautiful city for 10 years 🙂

      Reply
  • May 18, 2016 at 6:12 pm
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    Love this – and how you’ve taken one of your favourite films and made is travel expedition too… I’m ashamed to say that I have only been through Paris and need to go and actually spend time there! I need to hint to my husband! Thanks for linking up with #MondayEscapes

    Reply
    • May 18, 2016 at 9:07 pm
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      There are so many wonderful places to see in the world…it’s impossible to see everything at once. I do hope, though, that you’ll be able to explore Paris soon – it’s very romantic, so yes, start hinting to your husband 😉 Thanks for the visit.

      Reply
  • May 12, 2016 at 5:29 pm
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    Great article, I am also a huge fan of Audrey:)

    Reply
  • May 12, 2016 at 7:27 am
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    I love the cathedral – especially when the nuns sing as part of the mass. #all about France.

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    • May 12, 2016 at 8:58 am
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      A very special place…and so beautiful with the singing. Thanks for the visit, Andrea 🙂

      Reply
    • May 11, 2016 at 8:53 pm
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      Ahhh, thank you 🙂 It really felt as if I was visiting Montmartre again as I was writing the blog post. Glad you enjoyed it. And thanks for visit 🙂

      Reply
    • May 10, 2016 at 8:05 pm
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      Hi Tanja! So glad to hear you also included the Amélie café on your Paris trip. Such a fun side trip 🙂 Thanks for visiting my blog!

      Reply
  • May 8, 2016 at 10:40 pm
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    Thanks for joining Venture Link Up! Amelie has been on my watch list for a couple years now. Thanks for the reminder to pull it out and have a film day soon. 🙂

    Reply
    • May 9, 2016 at 1:45 pm
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      Hi Sarah! Thanks for the visit. You will love Amélie … such a feel-good movie!

      Reply
  • April 29, 2016 at 11:34 pm
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    You two are both pretty with those posters! 🙂 You know what? Let me download that, I trust that you have a good taste with movies. So many interesting things about the place, no wonder you’re into it. Love this post. 🙂

    Reply
    • April 30, 2016 at 5:27 am
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      Aww…Thanks, Iriz! 🙂 Yes, download the movie – you will love it! Wish I could go back to watching the movie for the very first time. Enjoy the magic…

      Reply
  • April 29, 2016 at 3:23 pm
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    Wish you a long queue and wonderful weekend ..
    Love and hugs from me // Nicki

    Reply
    • April 29, 2016 at 7:02 pm
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      Thanks Nicki! Happy weekend to you too 🙂

      Reply
  • April 28, 2016 at 2:13 pm
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    It is also my best feel-good movie ever! You have described the ambience and places to go to of Montmartre so well, anyone reading this, is bound to travel there. And everyone living there would be so proud to belong.
    I have been to Montmartre, never forgot how exhilarating I felt!
    Thank you, dear Birgit

    Reply
    • April 28, 2016 at 4:11 pm
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      Ah, I am not surprised that you also loved it there. It is such a happy, creative place 🙂 Thanks for your lovely feedback. XX

      Reply

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